Brewer crying in its beer over losing discount for on-time tax payments
MillerCoors has a gripe about its taxes. Every year, the company saves $350,000 because, like other brewers, beer importers and wholesale dealers, it gets a 3 percent credit for paying its Ohio alcoholic beverage taxes about three weeks in advance of when they’re otherwise due. Yes, you read that right.
Gov. Kasich has proposed eliminating that credit, and a similar discount for wine, as part of his tax plan. And that has MillerCoors concerned. The company objected to Kasich's tax plan in testimony to the House Ways & Means Committee. Incredibly, if a beer permit holder doesn’t manage to qualify for the 3 percent credit by paying its tax by the 18th of the month, it can still qualify for a smaller discount if it pays the tax when it’s due, by the 10th of the following month. Translation: They get a discount for paying their taxes on time.
Though Kasich’s overall tax plan is a bad deal that would shift Ohio taxes further onto lower- and middle-income Ohioans from the most affluent, it sensibly would repeal these giveaways. Altogether, they’re worth about $1.5 million a year.
But why is this industry getting such discounts – on the books since 1963 – to begin with? State law says that the credit and discount “shall be in consideration for advancing the payment of the tax and other services performed by the permit holder and other taxpayers in the collection of the tax.” But that doesn’t answer why this group of taxpayers should get such special treatment.
Ohio needs to crack down on such freebies, and the House of Representatives should signal its support in its substitute budget due April 14. There is no better time than tax time to endorse a move to make the state tax code more fair.
-- Zach Schiller